Guide to Business Casual Part I: Shirts and Pants

So you got a new job and the wardrobe requirements state “business casual.” Or perhaps you want to upgrade your everyday wear to a different standard. Regardless of the reason, kudos to you for taking a greater appreciation for your appearance! But what exactly does business casual encompass?

There’s quite a bit of confusion as to the exact definition of business casual. The reason is simple: there is no official definition! You’re probably thinking, where am I supposed to start then?! The concept varies amongst different industries, businesses and organizations, leading to many men becoming baffled and thus, unwilling to find what works because of the increase in effort involved. This lack of clarity actually works in your favor however, giving you more options to choose from and allowing the creative juices to flow! I’ll break down the bare minimum you should be incorporating while keeping a budget in consideration, and include a few (optional) additions and pairings that can help set you apart.


Pants

Chinos: Cotton, lightweight, generally more casual but can be dressed up with a blazer up top and the right shoes!

Slacks: Come in a variety of materials, generally less ventilated and appear more formal

Jeans and Joggers: Typically not appropriate, unless setting is ultra casual and you’re sporting a dark pair of quality denim

Key Factor: Slim/Tapered

How the pants fit should be at a premium, gentlemen. A tapered pant goes a long way, even if it’s not the best material or quality. The fit INSTANTLY augments your sense of style and therefore how you feel, too. This is a pro tip for improving your style when you’re on a budget.

Conscientious shopping and an open mind is all it takes to separate yourself from baggy clothing. Being in shape certainly helps too, as your pants will naturally fit better. Stores today tend to offer more slim fit options in general, but there is still a large array of options out there to sift through.

If you don’t buy the pant slim off the rack, or want to upgrade pants you already own, seek out an affordable tailor in your area! Don’t forget to bring your dress shoes with you!

Color

While black, navy and khaki are essentials, incorporating colored chinos and slacks adds immense versatility to your arsenal. A couple of my favorites include forest green, light blue, charcoal and maroon. These colors can be easily paired.

Style

While khaki chinos are great for everyday wear, what about mixing things up with houndshooth, striped or checkered pants? It’s beneficial to your overall versatility to have these options to go to on occasion. This immediately separates the man who puts effort into his appearance from those who don’t, by providing a fresh take on your lower half.

Materials

Wool, cotton, polyester, silk, linen?! Generally cotton is going to keep you cooler than wool, while wool tends to convey a “dressier” look. I like to have an array of cotton and wool options in my arsenal to go to depending on the setting. I tend to avoid linen due to its potential to wrinkle, but this is a nice, breathable option as well. 

Pro-Tip for the built guys: Find pants that incorporate polyester, modal, elastane for “stretch.” I’ll be covering “Menswear for the Built Man” in greater detail in the future, but generally pants that are all cotton or all wool will have less give than those incorporating the aforementioned materials. In my opinion, being built doesn’t give you an excuse to compromise your style. While slightly more challenging to find items that fit your frame, there are options!

 

 


Dress Shirt

Business casual shirting essentially calls for a long sleeve with a collar.

Polos and short-sleeved collared shirts are pushing it in terms of distinguishing yourself as a fashion-conscious man, but acceptable on occasion. Avoid establishing this as your go-to outfit!

Key Factor: Tapered

Noticing a trend? A tailored dress shirt is absolutely essential. It doesn’t have to hug the body, but a shirt with tapered sides will flatter your natural remedies for herpes physique much more as well as help you appear significantly more put-together. These can typically be found off the rack, but a tailor may be utilized if needed.

If you’re looking to save at the tailor, you could get away with a (slightly) less tailored shirt if your blazer is well tailored. Realize however that removal of the blazer precludes this practical approach, meaning less flexibility for you.

Collar Options

My favorites (aside from a traditional, classic collar that you can’t go wrong wearing) include Button-Down (buttons on each side of the collar that anchor the collar down), Club Collar, and Spread Collar (seen below in respective order).

Patterns

There is an immense variety of dress shirt patterns out there, which will likely be its own article. My favorites include gingham print, windowpane/tattersall, and pinstripe (seen below, respectively). Some men are afraid to venture to these, but no need! These are always easy on the eyes and add immensely to your look. You CAN pull it off. While you should have solid-colored staples in your lineup, I’m a huge fan of alternating your look with patterned shirts. Avoid pairing patterned shirts with patterned pants, or patterned blazers! Unless it’s a suit, of course. 

Additionals

Tuck in your shirt! This depends slightly upon the type of setting you’re in but as a general rule, a tucked in shirt compliments your silhouette more and helps augment your overall look.

Affordable Options

Express, Gap, Banana Republic Factory, J. Crew Factory, Nordstrom Rack, Land’s End, ASOS, Topman, Macy’s, Docker’s, Topman, Uniqlo, H&M, Forever 21 [keep in mind that with the latter two, quality may be compromised to an extent. Having said this, these stores are a great entryway for those looking to dress better on a budget] 

Mid-Range Options

Nordstrom, Charles Tyrwhitt, Banana Republic, J Crew, Bonobos, Suit Supply, Neiman Marcus, Zara, Club Monaco